Dr. Allison Pugh, Sociologist

Dr. Allison Pugh
Associate Professor, Sociology
College of Arts & Sciences
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The Tumbleweed SocietyHow do people make room in their lives for care and connection, given economic trends such as commercialization, overwork, insecurity and standardization? Over time, I have changed where I look for the answer, from children’s lives at home and school, to new families, to workers at work and in their intimate lives.

For my current project, I am focused on the kind of work that relies on relationship — think of therapists, teachers, primary care physicians, even police.  What happens to “relational labor” when we try to measure it, standardize it, make it more efficient, even using algorithms or artificial intelligence in its conduct?   On the one hand, such work draws upon the ineffable — charisma, “chemistry,” intuition, and our capacity to connect to each other.  On the other hand, we want to be able to identify, reward and train others in its best practices.   How can we systematize relational labor without dehumanizing its conduct?

In 2015, I published The Tumbleweed Society, which examines the broader impacts of job insecurity.  Companies are transforming the way they organize work, and while new working conditions offer gains for some workers, others lose out. Many have pointed out what these changes mean at work. Yet why would they affect us only in the workplace? My book, The Tumbleweed Society, examines how the culture of job precariousness affects our approach to work, our notions of what counts as honorable behavior, and our relations with the people we love.

Beyond the CubicleMy most recent book is an edited volume on how job insecurity affects intimate life in many different contexts, entitled Beyond the Cubicle: Job Insecurity, Intimacy and the Flexible Self. This is an interdisciplinary study of the impact of job insecurity beyond the workplace, featuring research regarding the ways in which people adapt their personal relationships to economic uncertainty and findings that could spark a reconsideration of current perceptions of labor, employee productivity, and job security.


Learn more about Dr. Pugh’s research and teaching. http://allisonpugh.weebly.com/



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